How do we build rapport with others?
We have all heard of ‘having rapport’; hearing someone say “she has a great rapport with her customers”,”He has a great rapport with the crowd”. Rapport isn’t something you can hold in your hands and as a commodity, it can’t be weighed on a set of scales. So what is it? And more importantly, how do we get cultivating some for ourselves.
I would say simply, Rapport is a mutually respected bond between two or more people that is built by complementary exhanges. Be they views, emotions or information.
Rapport is built slowly in a business and professional setting, cultivating and maintaining ties, offering assistance and providing help. Going the extra mile for the other party with no real expectation of immediate payoff.
Sometimes though, you need to put your rapport building into overdrive. Occasions like networking events, public events, social gatherings etc. You need to build a fairly firm connection with another person or group and have them or mutual parties, vouch and confirm that you are geniuine and have a genuine desire to connect. Sure, you can leave them a business card, contact details, Linkedin request and/or schedule another time to meet. But you need to get the initial hook in and start building rapport. This will build that genuineness and demonstrate your credibility.
How do we consciously build rapport then I hear you ask. Well, we have a plethora of options available to us. We just need to temper them to the situation we find ourselves in.
Firstly, we need to understand that building rapport is a risk and reward exercise. generally the safest acts and rituals will not move the needle, because you are only conforming to normal standards, i.e shaking hands when you meet. (99% of people in a business setting do that). You need to be further up the risk ladder if you are to get the result you want. If you are sharing your emotions and deep thoughts, whilst engaging in a riveting conversation or exchange, be it in agreement or not. Then you are up the risk ladder and your payoffs and rewards are potentially greater. Read my piece on debates and exchanges here.
The middle ground to this aproach is a happy medium which you can achieve after you have shaken hands, kissed cheeks, bowed respectfully to one another or even performed a curtsey. This green zone is an area where you share facts and information, these exchanges are safer as they are grounded in reality and if you are both passionate about the subject you are sharing, you will likely be able to agree on; or add more information and facts to the conversation. From here, as confidence increases and nerves setlle, you can then go up the ladder to the emotions, ideas and judegements plateau!
Some key takeaways for building rapport and demonstrating a genuine, authentic and mindful personality are:
- Not rushing the encounter or overloading the other party
- The conversation makes sense in the context of the interaction
- Equality and Empathy – treat your conversation partner(s) with respect and dignity
- Discuss Topical Issues, extracting their views or opinions to help shape your response – this shows you are an active/attentive listener (fantastic trait)
Some key red flags and definite rapport burners are:
- Over famliarity
- Lack of professionalism
- Arrogant and officious demeanor or attitude
- Judgemental or pious stance on others andn the views they hold
- Poor communication (goes without saying)
On a final note, I would advise anyone serious in their career, passion or just self development, to understand the value and potential massive ROI you can receive from just being a good conversationalist and rapport builder. Most successful people I know, in business and leisure have stumbled on more opportunities and life changing moments because they made the right connections and sparked the right minds into conversations. Get out there and show people just how much you can bring to any conversation and moment.
“Rapport equals trust plus comfort.” – Neil Strauss, American Author, Journalist and Ghostwriter.
For more public speaking advice, coaching and assistance please feel free to email –Will@lib-Orator.com